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Funding for Abilene Convention Center Hotel Project complete, moving into construction phase

The $66 million project is expected to be complete between March and June 2023.
Credit: City of Abilene, Texas Government

ABILENE, Texas — The City of Abilene Convention Center Hotel Project is one step closer to becoming a reality.

Abilene is one of the largest cities in Texas without a downtown convention and hotel center. As a result, officials said there is an element that is lost. After about 30 years of planning this project, officials said the goal for the hotel and convention center is to resolve that missing element in the downtown area. 

The project will leverage state hotel occupancy tax with state sales tax to pay for the associated debt service.

City Manager Robert Hanna said the City worked very hard to structure this project to protect the taxpayers and citizens of Abilene. 

"Our deal of structure is structured very conservatively. There is no recourse to the City of Abilene. This means we don't have to repay them if the hotel doesn't perform. The only debt City of Abilene has to repay is the six million dollars we anticipate issuing," Hanna said. 

Hanna and his team also expect the economy to be heavily impacted. 

"The economic impact will be substantial. Several tens of millions of dollars and hundreds of different jobs," Hanna said. 

Some are concerned about the liability for the taxpayer when it comes to the hotel project. A back hotel revenue bond was made to protect the taxpayer.

"Hotel revenue bonds don't have to be repaid by the Abilene citizens. The revenue generated by the hotel pays it. So room nights, hotel occupancy tax, those sorts of things. So there is no risk for the taxpayer on that side. They are not involved in the pledging of the debt," Hanna said.  

There will also be a change of a street from one-way to a two-way when the project is complete. 

"This will allow individuals to go to the hotel, the convention center, and into the parking lot of the hotel, which is going to be located to the west of the hotel," Director of Public Works Greg McCaffery said. 

This project is expected to be completed between March and June 2023, with an official fall opening in October-November 2023.